A dear friend sent me a copy of a book (that I actually already had on my wish list!) for Yule last year entitled, The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Actions into Spiritual Practices by Casper Ter Kuile. In this work, Ter Kuile calls the reader to "deepen [our] ordinary practices as intentional rituals that nurture connection and well-being." In other words, we are invited to deepen what we are already doing and make those actions sacred to add purpose and meaning to even the every-day things we do.
This work was suggested to me for a number of reasons, I'm sure, and what immediately stood out before I began reading was how much this sentiment echoed the way my religious practices manifest themselves in my life. I find small reasons to pray throughout the day, take moments to reflect and offer blessings to the world around me, and speak words that matter rather than rattling off whatever comes to mind first in conversation with my family, friends, and coworkers. I try to live my life with intention and make my every effort one that fuels what drives me and continues to lead me to become a better person. That being said, some days I fail. But, as the Japanese proverb says, "Fall down seven times; get up eight." The best life I can live is one in which failure and shortcoming compels me to try again.
Needless to say, I fell in love with the author and began listening to his podcast (along with cohost Vanessa Zoltan), Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. I was apprehensive, at first, because of the notable transphobia of the author of those books, and a very short amount of research set me at ease. None of the profits go to the author (since they are simply discussing the text and not quoting extensively, etc.), and the front page of the podcast has a visible declaration: Hate the author, love the books. While I do not condone hate, the sentiment was enough to help me return to curious and keep an open mind--especially because I have always loved Harry Potter! As my trans-child said to me on this very topic: The books are amazing and the author is trash; both of those can exist at the same time. (Haha! Thanks, polytheism. I love that we have a faith practice that teaches us to embrace the complex and multiplicities of truth rather than forcing us to choose between two polarized options. Also, also, I love that my kid threw my own teaching back at me when I was conflicted. Just heart).
It was in this podcast where I was introduced to the practice of Florilegia. A florilegium is a collection of literary extracts from either one or many sources that, when read together outside of their original context, will lead us to a new understanding. The practice comes to us from the 5th to 12th centuries through religious leaders who would collect short lines or phrases that stood out to them, sparklets, and used them in tandem to create new teachings and gain new understandings from sacred texts. This practice (along with several other very useful contemplative practices) is one of the exercises they use in each episode of the podcast to delve deeper into what meaning we can glean from this work. After all, any work that serves to guide us to deeper meaning and to evolve into a better version of ourselves may be treated and held as sacred!
All of this has led me to create my own journal of florilegium, a place where I write down my own sparklets from all the sources surrounding me in my daily life. From books to articles, from television shows to social media, I am recording those sparklets that stand out to see what wisdom may be gleaned in what is right before my eyes. In reading these short phrases and individual sentences without the context provided in the greater text, I am finding myself paying more attention to the individual turns of phrase and to my own use of words as I write. It is my hope that over time, there will be phrases I write or speak that will guide others to find new ways of becoming for themselves. That, as a creative person, is the highest praise I will receive for my work: knowing my words have impacted another in a way that touches their lives.